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Challenging Conventional Wisdom January 14, 2009

Posted by paulrickett in Social Media.
Tags: , ,

I am a convert to social media, how could I not be. I was one of the early email adopters, a Compuserve user and many other long departed early internet ventures and tools. So what am I challenging? The current conventional wisdom and rush to social media as the ‘silver bullet’ to solve all marketing problems. Yes, its useful, Yes, it is a good part of the future if not the future itself judging by my 17 year old son’s on-line experiences. But is it the answer to all marketing today? Certainly not, and not for some time yet.


Significant  proportions of the population are not engaged yet, especially in higher age demographics

Human nature has not changed and most still prefer to deal with a human when buying important things especially in B2B and many B2C applications. For instance,the Internet was to be death of branch banking at the beginning of the century. Now its just another channel and branch banking is experiencing a phoenix-like rise from the ashes of our expectations.

While Facebook and Myspace boast country-sized user bases, these are fragmented and spread over the world which means for 90% of businesses that these users represent a small portion of their customers and potential customer markets.

The potential for fraud is already startling. But abuse of social media is really just┬ábeginning and, people, there’s going to be a backlash at all the subtle, and not so subtle marketing directed at them through Twitter, Facebook etc. With recent cases overseas on serving divorce papers, virtual murder etc, many people are going to be turned off and perhaps retreat to moderated forums. Not forever but social media is not yet a panacea for business success.

The evangelists would have us believe that the future is now, I’d argue its only just starting and we are a generation (at least) away from near-universality in the developed world let alone the rest.

Social media is undoubtedly useful and needs to be addressed by most marketers, but they still need to blend it with the older and more conventional tools and disciplines.

Twitter: @paulrickett, LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulrickett



1. Kathleen Rake - January 14, 2009

Well said, Paul. And no, you’re not tilting at windmills. I look forward to reading more.



2. Peter Rawsthorne - January 14, 2009

Great to have you in the blogosphere! Your wisdom regarding demographics is spot on… It may be more than a generation to get any reasonable traction in people creating content in the social media. So far its all a good start.

3. James Glave - January 14, 2009

FB shows 9,402,700 self-reported cdns over the age of 18, which is approx 30% of Canada’s population. That’s pretty freaking high. The Issue is not adoption level, but an ad model that works. The buttons in the right have a very low click-through rate. Compared to the strength of what social media can do, thery’re wholly uninspired

4. Ginger Conlon - January 15, 2009

Like most new marketing opportunities that have that shown great promise for some, social media is the lastest channel that too many marketers are rushing to take advantage of without first thoroughly examining what approach will work best for their company and their customers. Yes, companies need to take risks and try new things, but if your customers aren’t heavy Internet users, for example, is an online community right for you? Perhaps ask your customers before creating that online community whether it’s something they would find valuable.
We’ve written a lot about this topic, and about companies that are having success with social media: http://www.getpastthehype.com

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